Executive Officer at Sustainable Living Tasmania

Todd Houstein 1251.40sc

Todd Houstein's activity stream

  • published Advice in For homes 2018-07-27 16:14:36 +1000



    Looking for solar panels, heat pump hot waterheat pump room heaters, insulation, water tanks, etc? Through our social enterprise, Eco Home Guide, we offer all of these products and more. Eco Home Guide provides tailored advice, and offers to the best products and services in Tasmania - often with great discounts! Proceeds support our work as a not-for-profit. Visit here ecohomeguide.com.au.

    Below are the services we provide to homes to help you live more sustainably, improve comfort, and save money.

    We've visited more than 4,500 Tasmanian households over the past 10 years, sitting down with people around their kitchen tables to help them work out their next steps. They have made their homes more comfortable and reduced energy consumption, as proved by detailed research informed by data-logging and in-depth interviews conducted by academics at the University of Tasmania.

  • published For businesses 2018-08-01 15:22:34 +1000

    For businesses

    ** Grant alerts for businesses **

    • For small-to-medium farms: The Tasmanian Government’s On-farm Energy Audit and Capital Grant Program: 67% subsidy on energy audits + 50% subsidy on capital infrastructure, including solar, batteries , irrigation pumps, heating, cooling, insulation, etc. Funds are limited, don’t miss out! Click here for details
    • For other small-to-medium businesses: The Tasmanian Government is now providing 70% subsidies for energy audits for eligible Tasmanian businesses. We have been selected to sit on the Energy Efficiency Expert Panel for this scheme. Click here for details.

    Our services for businesses

    We offer a range of professional services for businesses, government agencies, community organisations, etc, focused on reducing operating costs while improving environmental impacts, including:

    • Energy audits to Australian Standards
    • Solar optimisation
    • Tariff optimisation
    • Electricity contract negotiation
    • Assistance with procurement of energy products and services
    • Carbon audits to international standards, and advice on offsetting
    • Waste audits
    • Sustainability and corporate social responsibility policy, and strategy development
    • Electric vehicle integration plans
    • Education & training workshops

    We have a wealth of experience delivering the above services to a diverse range of clients, including small to medium businesses, aged care facilities, public and private schools, local governments, State Government agencies, and Government Business Enterprises.

    Contact Scott Blacklow or Todd Houstein to discuss tailoring our services to your specific needs: 6234 5566 or scott@slt.org.au.

  • commented on Climate solutions 2017-08-25 12:43:21 +1000
    Thanks Hans, I agree. I hope to ramp up our public engagement soon once we’ve made a little more progress.

  • commented on Tasmania's emissions target 2017-08-24 09:56:27 +1000
    Hi Hans, thanks for your support and thoughts!

    The graph is of Tasmania’s Scope 1 emissions using the definitions and methodologies specified in the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. Under this framework, only the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector can go negative, the other sectors can only go zero at best.

    For example, if Tasmania had 100% renewable electricity then our emissions from the “Energy Industries” sub-sector would be zero. If we then exported some to the mainland this would not make our emissions go negative as you might expect, rather it would reduce Victoria’s emissions. Our plans will look beyond Tasmania’s Scope 1 Kyoto Protocol emissions and consider the global impact on emissions (as that’s what really counts), and so Tasmania becoming an exporter of 100% renewable electricity is definitely on the cards. There is a big question around how long Tasmanian exports will be able to compete with renewable electricity generated on the mainland (due to the rapidly tumbling costs of solar in particular, superior solar resource on the mainland, costs of operating and maintaining undersea cable(s), and additional energy losses from transmitting electricity from Tasmania vs solar generated on the mainland closer to where it’s being used). But we think in the short-to-medium-term at least, Tasmania has a competitive advantage and could do quite well from exporting renewable electricity.

    Regarding sequestration from agriculture (into trees and soils), this is included under the LULUCF Sector under the “Cropland Management” and “Grazing Land Management” sub-sectors.

    Regarding the industrial processes, I’m not aware of any sequestration potential here, at least not under the Kyoto Protocol (KP). More broadly speaking, cement is an interesting subject here… Cement manufacturing is a huge contributor to emissions, both globally and in Tasmania. When concrete cures it reabsorbs carbon, however this is currently unaccounted for in the KP (it’s been explained to me the reason for this is the amount and rate of sequestration are highly variable, depending upon shape and climate and a bunch of other variables). In the long-term, there is potential to develop magnesium-based cements that don’t produce carbon dioxide during manufacturing, but absorb it when curing, thereby having a negative emissions profile. Check out Beyond Zero Emissions’ Rethinking Cement plan: http://bze.org.au/rethinking-cement-plan/

    Overall, we think our emissions trajectories are ambitious, but achievable; and we hope to demonstrate how Tasmania can thrive in the process of achieving them. As we delve into the detail that may be proved wrong… perhaps we need to be less ambitious, or perhaps even more ambitious… time will tell.

  • Staying Connected

    The Staying Connected workshop is aimed at building the capacity of front-line community service workers in Tasmania to assist their clients in staying warm and managing their energy bills; but it is also very useful for individuals. We developed the workshop in partnership with TasCOSS, and delivered it all over Tasmania, as well as producing this video of it.

    Table of contents

    You can click the links to jump straight to the relevant part of the video...

    INTRODUCTION (0:00:00)

    ENERGY IN TASMANIA - a brief overview (0:01:34)
    - The electricity supply chain (0:01:34)
    - Electricity cost breakdown (0:04:00)
    - Electricity price regulation (0:06:40)
    - Gas supply chain (0:08:16)

    ELECTRICITY BILLS - how to read them (0:11:36)
    - Measuring electricity (0:11:36)
    - Aurora Pay As You Go (0:12:48)
    - Tariffs (0:04:11)
    - Reading an Aurora electricity bill (0:19:32)
    - Useful calculations from bill information (0:25:38)
    - Estimating hard-wired heater energy use (0:28:05)
    - Estimating plug-in heater and clothes dryer energy use (0:28:55)
    - Estimating hot water energy use estimate (0:29:30)

    - Where does it go? Breakdown of typical household energy use (0:30:46)
    - Heating (0:31:42)
    - Dressing appropriate (0:31:42)
    - Finding and fixing gaps (0:32:30)
    - Zoning heated areas (0:33:30)
    - Curtains and pelmets (0:34:10)
    - Heater comparison (0:35:10)
    - Using a thermostat (0:37:06)
    - Heat pumps (0:38:46)
    - Plug-in heaters (0:39:12)
    - Wood heaters (0:39:40)
    - Energy Game (0:42:24)
    - Hot water (0:43:55)
    - Shower heads (0:43:55)
    - Improving existing hot water systems (0:44:44)
    - Lighting (0:45:37)
    - Appliances (0:47:11)
    - Appliance star ratings (0:47:11)
    - Cooking (0:47:41)
    - Fridges (0:48:09)
    - Hidden energy hogs (0:49:01)

    - Concessions (0:50:39)
    - Payment options (0:53:31)
    - Payment plans (0:59:01)
    - Aurora Energy's YES (hardship) Program (1:01:00)
    - Energy Hardship Fund (1:02:42)
    - Emergency relief (1:05:01)
    - Financial Counselling (1:05:43)
    - No Interest Loans (1:07:29)
    - Complaints & disputes (1:09:05)
    - Avoiding disconnection (1:11:40)
    - Getting reconnected (1:15:26)

    Thanks to the Tasmanian Government for funding the Staying Connected project through the Tasmanian Climate Change Office.

  • published Hobart Takeaway Plastic Ban in Advocacy 2017-08-02 11:02:34 +1000

    Hobart Takeaway Plastic Ban


    This is huge news. We've even made the New York Times for it!


    We'd like to thank Alderman Harvey and Alderman Cocker for taking putting it to Council, Plastic Wise Taroona and Zero Waste Tasmania for helping us campaign on it,and YOU and all the other passionate people pushing to put an end to plastic pollution!


    But it ain't over yet

    As we understand it Council staff will now develop a process for determining the specifics of the change to the by-law, including public consultation. It will be important for us (you included) to raise concerns and promote an approach that will achieve the desired outcomes. Sustainable Living Tasmania will work with Zero Waste Tasmania and Plasticwise Taroona and others to assist the community in understanding the issues and making positive contributions to the public consultation process. Watch this space! Sign up as a member for just $10/year to receive our newsletter.


    Some background

    • Alderman Bill Harvey and Alderman Phil Cocker put forward the motion for a ban on plastic takeaway packaging.
    • 10 out of 11 aldermen voted 'yes' on 7th August 2017. For more information on what the aldermen voted on, read the short report prepared by Council staff, "Plastic Takeaway Packaging Ban"
    • We and like-minded community groups drummed up support to demonstrate to the other aldermen that the community really wanted this change. About 70 supporters wrote to the aldermen. You can read our letter to aldermen here.
    • Through our Carrot Mob project in 2016 (funded by a Waste Reduction Grant from the Council), we encouraged, supported and rewarded food retailers who voluntarily moved away from plastic takeaway packaging by encouraging customers to eat in or bring their own reusable containers, and by switching to compostable alternatives. This demonstrated that the community is keen, businesses are up for it, and it really isn't difficult or costly to achieve.

  • published Bleak chic week 2 in Newsletter 2017 Issue 5 2017-06-14 13:02:34 +1000

    Bleak Chic week 2

    We’ve had a fantastic response to our survey so far, with some interesting comments and feedback, so firstly thank you for taking the time to fill it out and share on social media. We’ll be running the survey for another week before we collate the data so more responses and shares would be hugely useful- particularly a few more from the men out there.

    Complete our survey here

    Australians purchase 27 kilograms of clothing per year. Whilst women do dominate the fashion market, men are fast catching up with global menswear sales increasing by 70 percent from 1998 to 2014.[1] Moreover, stats from 2016 show that Australian men spent $621 Million on online clothes shopping.[2]

    Complete our survey here

    Next week’s post will address some of the comments left on the survey, starting with the labour that goes into making our clothes, with some useful tips regarding how to shop more ethically and responsibly.

    [1] Clare Press, Why the Fashion Industry is Out of Control- Financial Review 23rd April 2016 http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/fashion/why-the-fashion-industry-is-out-of-control-20160419-goa5ic#ixzz4jTOUoHOD 

    [2] Found at Roy Morgan research http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6778-local-vs-overseas-for-men-and-women-buying-clothes-online-australia-december-201605012305

  • published TEELS Interest free loan scheme in Government programs 2017-05-01 12:48:49 +1000

    TEELS interest-free loans - Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme

    The Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (TEELS) - a joint initiative of the Tasmanian Government, Aurora Energy and the Westpac Group - was launched on 1st May 2017. The Scheme will provide interest-free finance for the purchase of energy efficient products for Tasmanian households and small businesses.

    Note that there is another program, NILS. Subject to the availability of funds, The NILS Network of Tasmania can provide subsidies and no interest loans to low-income Tasmanians needing energy efficiency products such as heat pumps and home insulation. For more information about NILS Energy Saver Subsidies and Loans, go to their website www.nilstasmania.org.au OR call NILS on 1300 301 650.

    Eligible Products

    EcoHomeGuide_Logo_Tagline.pngThere are many products available. Sustainable Living Tasmania's energy experts are here to help you work out which option is best for your unique circumstances. Visit us at first floor 71 Murray Street, Hobart, or contact us on 6234 5566 or ecohomeguide@slt.org.au.

    Use our social enterprise website, Eco Home Guide to get great prices on quality products - we've done the homework so you don't have to! Buying through Eco Home Guide supports our important work through a small commission on sales. This doesn't mean you pay more; in fact, our supporters pay less thanks to the great deals we've negotiated with reputable Tassie suppliers on your behalf.

    Scheme details

    • The scheme is open to Tasmanian residential and small business customers (definition of small business = consumes less than 150 MWh per annum, which is approx. $30,000 per annum);
    • or households the interest-free period is 3 years for amounts of $500 up to $10,000.
    • For small businesses the interest-free period is 5 years for amounts of $10,001 up to $40,000.
    • Customers will be permitted one successful application for the duration of the scheme, however Aurora have indicated multiple people within the same property can make separate applications;
    • Customers can purchase multiple eligible products provided they don't exceed the maximum finance value in the application category.
    • The scheme is available to customers for a period of 12 months, or until funds run out, so get in quick!;
    • Products can be purchased from any supplier which has operated in Tasmania for a period of 18 months or more (which includes all of our partner businesses on Eco Home Guide);
    • While TEELS is being run through Aurora, you don't need to be an Aurora customer to be eligible (i.e. off-grid and/or with a different retailer are eligible).
    • A total of up to $20 million of finance will be provided through the scheme.

    Application process

    1. Apply through the Aurora website, confirming you reside/operate business in Tasmania and that you are plan to purchase an eligible product.
    2. Aurora will send an email back to you confirming your application and forwarding info to Westpac.
    3. Westpac will contact you to arrange appointment. At this stage you'll need a quote for the product(s) you plan to buy with the TEELS loan. 
    4. You will be subject to normal Westpac lending processes and requirements.
    5. Once approved, you will receive a Westpac credit card, which you can use to pay the supplier(s) of the approved items.
    6. You give the receipt for the approved items to Westpac.

    The process for small businesses is slightly different. Read about it on the Aurora website here.

    Want help?

    Sustainable Living Tasmania's energy experts are here to help! Visit us at first floor 71 Murray Street, Hobart, or contact us on 6234 5566 or ecohomeguide@slt.org.au.

  • Government assistance program open to all launches today

    Sustainable Living Tasmania welcomes the introduction of the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (TEELS), which was launched today at 1:30pm at the Goodwood Community Centre.

    Read more

  • published Government programs in Advice 2017-04-06 10:31:50 +1000

    Government programs

    There are a number of programs run and/or funded by governments to help you access sustainable technologies:

    1. NILS: 50% subsidies and interest-free loans for concession card holders on energy efficiency items, run by NILS Tasmania. NOW OPEN - Get in fast!
    2. TEELS: Interest-free loans on energy efficiency items for all Tasmanian households and small businesses, run by Aurora Energy. OPEN NOW! Read more here
    3. RET: Rebate on renewable energy items including solar panels, heat pump hot water, and solar hot water; run by the Australian Government. This is an ongoing program, with rebates gradually decreasing to the year 2030.


    Get quotes on the products we recommend from our new social enterprise website, Eco Home Guide. We have partnered with great local businesses to provide quality products at great prices. As an added bonus, a portion of sales help Sustainable Living Tasmania continue our important work.


  • followed Donate 2016-11-23 11:11:34 +1100

    Donate monthly

    For a once-off donation click here

    We will do our utmost to transform your donations into thriving, equitable and sustainable Tasmanian communities that inspire the rest of the world into action!

    Monthly donations are tax deductible and easy to set up. Your regular support means we can plan ahead and make strategic and impactful decisions.




  • posted about Carrotmob Signup on Facebook 2016-10-21 14:51:28 +1100
    Join me in this Carrotmob; using carrots not sticks to get shops to switch from plastic to compostable packaging

    Carrotmob Signup

    Join our Carrotmob! We're using carrots (not sticks) to get Hobart food shops to switch from plastic to compostable packaging.
    Become a volunteer

  • published Advocacy in For Tasmania 2016-03-29 16:08:17 +1100


    In the pursuit of our vision to see thriving Tasmanian communities living sustainable in a healthy environment, we often share our ideas and advocate for change. Below are some of our more recent submissions to government policy consultations.

    Our submission on the Smart Cities Plan June 2016

    Our submission on the Draft Tasmanian Climate Change Strategy March 2016 
    Special thanks to Josh, Mitch and several others for their voluntary contributions to developing the submission.

    Our submission on the City of Hobart Draft Waste Strategy February 2016 
    Special thanks to Martyn and Josh for their voluntary contributions to developing the submission.

    Our submission on the Draft Healthy Tasmania Plan February 2016 
    Special thanks to Nysha and Danielle for their voluntary contributions to developing the submission.



  • published Volunteer in For homes 2018-08-01 15:51:33 +1000


    Volunteers are the beating heart of Sustainable Living Tasmania. We have various volunteering tasks that you can do from home, from our office or at various events throughout the year. Whether you are looking for work and want to build your resume; recently retired and keen to use your skills on a meaningful project; a new parent seeking mental stimulation from a small role; or you want to meet new people and work for a more sustainable Tasmania – we’d love to have you on the team and we've got something for everyone! 

    We advertise our volunteer positions, as they arise, on Seek Volunteer and in our regular newsletter. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about current opportunities.

  • published Why? in Information 2015-09-21 14:54:25 +1000

    What is sustainable living, and why do it?

    Sustainable living is complicated, but the rewards are rich and varied, and so it is definitely worth pursuing.

    tasmania_from_space.jpg'Sustainable' means able to be kept going. Simple, right? Yet somehow it has become one of the most misused and abused terms of all time. Misappropriation by commercial and political interests certainly hasn't helped, but there is plenty of confusion for other reasons.

    Allow me to illustrate with a question: Is a hybrid car sustainable? This is actually a trick question. It doesn't make sense to ask if an object is sustainable; we need to look at the system it is part of.

    So, the question should be something more like this: Would it be sustainable for a billion people to each travel 10,000km per year in hybrid electric cars? The answer is that it could be sustained for some years before running into any of a number of terminal and dire consequences, including running out of affordable fuel and causing catastrophic climate change.

    Even that question is problematic as it ignores many factors including the materials the cars are made from, and how they are produced, and how they are dealt with at the end of their life (e.g. dumped or recycled), and the same for the roads, and the fuel, and other things that use that fuel, and, and, and… It gets complicated very quickly.

    These days everything is so globally interconnected that it's difficult to isolate any one thing. The only thing we can truly assess as sustainable or otherwise is global society as a whole. Depleting finite resources (e.g. crude oil) and renewable resources (e.g. fish, fertile soil), increasing pollution, loss of biodiversity, extinction rates, and natural system disruption (e.g. climate change) tell us plainly and clearly that global society is far from sustainable right now.

    But that doesn't really help us decide what to do as individuals, households, or communities.

    Enter the old adage "think global, act local". By developing a broad understanding of what affects global sustainability, we can find our part in bringing it about. That quest is at the very heart of sustainable living.

    family_harvest.jpgSo, what is our part? You would not be alone if you started to list off a bunch of products like solar panels, solar hot water, double glazing, insulation, electric vehicles, water tanks, organic vegetables, etc. Our supporter survey asked people what hinders them from living sustainably. The most common answer was money – a lack of it. Presumably they felt they needed to own those things to live sustainably.

    Contrast that with the results of a fascinating study by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) in 2007 called Consuming Australia. It found that "direct household and person use accounts for just 10 percent of our total eco-footprint." The remaining 90 percent is embodied in the stuff we consume. The more money we have, the more likely we are to consume more stuff and cause worse environmental impacts.

    If you can afford it, then you should definitely spend it on those things above - and our social enterprise Eco Home Guide can help you work out how to do that best. Better still, donate to charities like us. Not only does this reduce environmental impacts directly, it also avoids the environmental impacts of the stuff you’d spend your money on otherwise!

    But if you don't have enough money to do these things, you'll do better by our planet by being resourceful and frugal than by accumulating more financial wealth – better for the environment and (unless you're really struggling) for your own well-being...

    Sustainable living substantially reduces costs of living, allowing you to work less and spend more time doing what you love with the people you love.

    This is just one of the co-benefits of sustainable living. The list is endless. Some examples:

    Commuting by foot or bicycle improves your physical and mental health through regular exercise, and reduces transport and health costs.

    Growing your own vegetables gets you out in the sun and your hands in the soil, reduces food costs, often produces higher quality and definitely fresher produce, helps you to avoid junk food, often connects you with neighbours as you share the surplus, and gives you a sense of accomplishment in meeting your own basic needs. Even the simplest of meals tastes amazing when you've grown just some of the ingredients yourself. If you haven’t experienced that sensation then you are seriously missing out. Get into it!

    There is an overwhelming amount of information out there on how to live sustainably. If, like us, you’d prefer to gain knowledge, skills and motivation with and from peers, then join Tasmania's sustainable living movement by becoming a member.


  • followed Make a once-off donation 2016-03-22 12:03:33 +1100

    Make a gift to the future

    Thank you for donating by completing the form below/left. We will do our utmost to transform your donations into thriving, equitable and sustainable Tasmanian communities that inspire the rest of the world into action!

    Complete this form to make a once-off donation. Alternatively, to help us have even more impact, set up monthly donations by clicking here




  • followed Contact 2016-05-12 15:11:36 +1000


    We'd love to hear from you, send us a message using the box below.

    Or pop in and visit us between 9am - 5pm, Monday - Thursday (closed on Fridays)

    Address: 1st floor, 71 Murray Street, Hobart TAS 7000 (map)

    Or call us on (03) 6234 5566

    We have a monthly newsletter full of offers, stories and upcoming activities - subscribe here



  • donated via 2017-03-16 11:40:31 +1100